Summing up the 2008 National Bike Summit
Earlier this month more than 500 advocates and industry folks attended the League of American Bicyclists 2008 National Bike Summit. Now that people are back staffing their shops, evaluating local projects, or busily machining new widgets, how will the 2008 Summit affect both those who attended, as well as people like you? We thought you would never ask…
More Industry Attendees Signals Shift In Industry Focus
For years, advocates and a select number of industry insiders have felt that bicycling in this country would benefit from increased support from bike manufacturers, distributors, and shops. There has been a recent shift towards bikes designed for commuting and urban riding, as evidenced at last year’s Interbike Show in Las Vegas. Companies such as Planet Bike have been funding advocacy efforts for years (25% of profits to advocacy) Now, industry giants such as Trek putting programs such as “1 World 2 Wheels” in to place in an effort to get more folks on bikes. There were a record number of shop owners, staffers and other industry people at this year’s Summit who are beginning to take advocacy efforts back to their own town, as well as learn about what is happening at the national level. The message: letting your local and national decision makers know that bicycling matters is good for everyone – and in the end, means more people on bikes, and more business for industry.
Preparing For Transportation Reauthorization
Every six years, the Federal Government passes a transportation bill (detailed here waaaay back in Urban Velo #1) which determines how much money will be allocated for among many things, bicycle and pedestrian projects. This bill is coming up for reauthorization in 2009, and a lot of the lobbying done on Capitol Hill at the 2008 Summit was designed to ensure that Congress knows that bicyclists want an increased portion of the funding pie. Currently, bicyclists AND pedestrians make up for about 1% of funding in the transportation bill. And while this may represent hundreds of millions of dollars – spread over six years and 50 states – the actual funds available to implement local projects is mighty thin, indeed.
The Times They Are A-Changin’
Interest in bicycling as a “real” alternative to driving looked ever-so-much-sweeter to members of Congress in light of $100/barrel oil and post-Inconvenient Truth Oscars. While in the words of the late Rodney Dangerfield, for the most part, cyclists “can’t get no respect,” we’re starting to look like a good platform for decision makers to stand on. If you hadn’t already heard, there is a station in California selling gas for more than $5.00 a gallon – $5.20 for regular, and $5.40 for the high-test stuff.
The Summit Opening Keynote Speaker, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), rallied troops bright and early on the first day of the Summit, as well as the morning of congressional lobbying. Though technically not part of the Summit, Congressman Blumenauer gave a speech before Congress just before the Summit detailing the things that we as cyclists already know, and that those in power must know. Congressman Blumenauer is a champion of the bicycle, helping propel Portland forward as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country, as well as heading up the Bike Caucus. Congressman Blumenauer is noted within Washington, D.C. for frequently showing up to meetings with his right pant leg still in a bike strap, as he rides his bike as a primary mode of transportation in D.C. Bike Pittsburgh captured a copy of the speech for you if you’re so inclined.
Special thanks to ace Urban Velo contributor David Hoffman for this wrap-up of the 2008 National Bike Summit.